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Recruitment station at King’s Lynn museum

Borough Mayor and Mayoress Barry and Christine Ayres with some of the team involved in the event at True's Yard King' Lynn ANL-140816-182223009

Borough Mayor and Mayoress Barry and Christine Ayres with some of the team involved in the event at True's Yard King' Lynn ANL-140816-182223009

A Lynn museum was transported back 100 years to its days as a recruiting station during the First World War.

About 40 children and adults were given a taste of the process undertaken by men looking to serve their country during the event at True’s Yard Fisherfolk Museum on Saturday.

Staff and friends of the museum organised the session as part of its commemorations to mark the 100th anniversary of the outbreak of The Great War.

Museum manager Lindsey Bavin said: “The building was a recruitment station 100 years ago and we ran this in the exact place.

“We re-created the experience North Enders would have had. Many of them who signed up would not have lasted the year.”

Medical staff and officers from RAF Marham took time out to support the event, while Police, sea and air cadets along with members of the public, including some eight-year-olds, took part in the day.

The recruits were tasked with filling out medical and personal information forms.

Visitors undertook many of the tests which were initially used in the recruitment process to find the best soldiers.

Among these was the flat foot test. Visitors were asked to stand on a piece of damp paper and then a dry piece. Potential recruits would be refused if a full foot print could be seen as flat foot was believed to detrimental to marching, running and walking great distances.

Another test would be the ability to hold a 20lb sand bag at chest height for 20 seconds.

Miss Bavin said: “We had some eight year-olds. When it came to this test the military re-enactor Neil Bignell held the bag while they held on to the tags.”

Medical tests were carried out by Dr Leena Deol.

Miss Bavin said: “There was a question on the form about complexion. If they looked ruddy and in full health you would put that and if they were sickly and pale they may have been discounted.

“Initially they needed soldiers who were ready to fight but later in the war, after suffering heavy losses, they just needed man power.”

After passing the tests, visitors took the military oath in front of a magistrate – and West Norfolk mayor Barry Ayres acted as a magistrate on the day.

Miss Bavin said: “We had a lot of fun on the day and people learned about the war, while the guys from RAF Marham really connected with the public.”

The museum will be hosting another First World War event on Sunday. Staff will be recreating a Lyons cafe in the museum where tea, scones and cake will be served by “nippies”, a term coined for the speedy waitresses. Tickets, priced at £6, are still available.

 

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